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MaRo

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Today, some shoulder work. I try to improve the bridge (among other stretches) by doing it with feet elevated. Like this, I achieve a better shoulder opening without tension on my back.
The backbending exercices are giving me an unexpected feeling of openness and relaxation in the area of the sternum. I love them.

Then, I did some passive spine twisting. I am aware that more flexiblity there would be helpful, but I don't feel much difference there. I am doing such stretches for a couple of years now. Maybe, it is just not so evident.

For the hip, I took it easy again and only did a short sequence of limbering around half pancake. Then, sitting in straddle position (not very wide), for the first time, I felt that touching and massaging my "sore area" in the right adductors leads to some relaxation. Or at least, there was some muscular reaction. I got this sore spot last fall when doing a cartwheel. So far, the adductors just felt "hard" , with a wandering sore area.

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Today again a "comfy" stretching session after Ski hiking in pretty low temperatures. Same feeling in the "sore" area (which is good).
Whewn I work towards Skandasana, it takes less time until I come lower. Now I get to a point where I can reach both ankles with my hands and have the back more or less parallel to the floor (not very low, though).
I am very happy know these exercices now. It is a good way to work the muscles after sport.

Shutdown is going on here, so still no training, no work...

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Because I still struggle a bit with my sore spot, I did mainly limbering and worked a bit more with piriformis/deep lunge etc.

Today, I really felt sinking into my padding pillows when doing deep lunge. My staple of pillows is high but I never felted like getting any closer to the ground. My hips have really losened up. I hope I can continue in this direction. .

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My Pancake does not develop at the moment, but I felt losening up some muscles around my sore spot today. There is certainly something happening in the adductors.
I did the Partner exercise in Pancake (where someone lies on my back) with my husband and it is really not too heavy.

Today. I did the long hip flexor sequence and I could hold my back legs with my hands! It was quite a surprise because I always needed a strap.

I keep doing turnout exercices every day.

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On 2/20/2021 at 3:32 AM, MaRo said:

My Pancake does not develop at the moment

And yet the rest of your post describes new changes, and these changes are at least partly because of what you are doing. The point I am trying to make is that while the objective of your practise 'appears' to not be changing, in fact your whole body is. We, the user of the body, cannot feel the multitude of changes moment to moment, yet that is all that is happening. Keep going, and just like your experience today with being able to hold the back leg, one day you will see and feel the changes that will be a better pancake.

And try different turnout exercises each time you do them, and don't do any stretch every day; it will help to re-read this:

https://kitlaughlin.com/forums/index.php?/topic/1570-the-secrets-of-stretching/

 

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21 hours ago, Kit_L said:

And yet the rest of your post describes new changes, and these changes are at least partly because of what you are doing.

Completely agree! This is what I wanted to say: While the pancake itself does not change at the moment, in the hip as a whole, there is a lot of change.

Yes, I have to look for some different turnout exercices, I am doing always the two or three same.

I do stretch every day, but not one single stretch every day. Today, I did spine (supta vajrasana), piriformis, wrists, calfs.
I will happily reread the thread, thank you!

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I understand! I could never stretch every day, I am usually sore after contractions!

-----------------------------

I made very interesting observations in my body in conjunction with turnout:

I have a hollow back and forward rolled shoulders. Not a medical diagnosis, it is just how I perceive my body - and how i know it from sewing....

Especially after walking on tarmac I use to develop some lower back pain, not bad. I could produce relief by "tail tucking" and it always went away quickly.

Now I am practising turnout for a while. I still think it is not (mainly) a question of capacity, I am just not doing it. So I try to include a more turned out position in movements of my everyday life.
This morning, when I was waiting for my train, I discovered this:

When I am standing and tilt my pelvis for reliefing my lower back, my shoulders are rolling forward. I can work against this, but it is a "normal" reaction for keeping balance.
But - if I am turning my knees/tighs out instead of it, the pelvis is also tiltig a bit - and the spine is "unravelling" so that my shoulders are lifing! My whole posture is much improved like this!

I guess I felt this effect pretty much because I was carrying a  heavy backback. I was retring it in the train without backback and the effect is still there, but to a much smaller degree. I would maybe never have discovered it if I haven't tried it with the backpack on (time well used!).

I now have to digest this. I could be a key for a lot of posture/movement inconveniences I have. It might be that my legs are kind of wrong linked to the hips, but it is not that the attachment is wrong, it is just that the the "straps" (muscles) of the attachment are not tied correctly: in some places, they are too strong (mainly inside), in others too lose (mainly outside the thigs). But it's just this what Stretchtherapy is for, isn't it?

This might also be the reason of my 'problems' in horse riding: My riding teacher keeps correcting my posture, but all she corrects (like "lift your breast, tilt your pelvis, don't lean back, loosen your ankles" etc.) might be symptoms of a turnout-not-there.

I don't know if all this makes sense, explained just in words, in english words... But it is fundamental for me and very deep. I cannot say how much it would mean to me to have discovered this eventuality and if I could improve this. At the moment, I keep observing, working and I thank you so much for your input!

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I don't believe you have spoken about what I'm about to talk about yet, but I have a deep conviction that seriously stretching your quads and hip flexors will have a remarkable effect on your posture. Our approach to posture is not about adding more tension to what's already there in order to correct an external view of what good posture should look like. Rather, we remove the restrictions, and see how the body lengthens and realigns itself against gravity – and this is effortless; you don't have to think about it. "Hollow back": do you mean an excessive lumbar lordosis? If so, even more reason to really siege the hip flexors. By loosening and changing the length–tension relationships of the hip flexors permanently, your lumbar spine shape and thoracic spine shape (and accordingly, how the shoulder blades rest on the rib cage) and head positioning will change permanently.

I recommend a twice a week strong hip flexor and quadriceps stretching regimen in addition to what you're already doing, and after you stretch your hip flexors, in particular, do your turn out work then. See if anything changes doing it like this.

And what good posture looks like and how it is corrected on horseback is almost the antithesis of turnout, so I think you're onto something here as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am sorry that I didn't react for a coupe of days - I went back to my home village, did some ski hiking including some digital detox.

 

I have to think about what you wrote. You are certainly right, I have to interpret it. This is all pretty new for me. It is a worthwhile thougt  to improve the posture not by adding tension, but to remove restrictions.

(Excursus: I looked at some before-after stretching pictures of my gymnasts and me. Where it really worked, it really looks as if some strains were cut, but tension - in a good sense- is not lost. It looks like "loosened up").

The feeling of "realigning" is exactly what I got. I am not sure, but maybe "turnout" is not exactly the term that describes what I do. Generally, when I stand, my kneecaps look towards together while the feet are in a natural position. When I do "turnout". I activate the muscles on the outside of my thigs so that the kneecaps look straight forward. So there isn't anything turned out, but just turned to neutral. But it is more "out" than the position I am used to. And this neutral position is what I am looking for while horseriding (I can go riding as soon as I am out of quarantine).

I do practise the turnot or rather "neutral position" at the moment in quarantin by walking stairs. Each step I concentrate on keeping the knee over the foot and not to let the kneecap "fall in". I got me some mildly sore muscles on the middle back 😉

 

Yes, by "hollow back" I mean an excessive lumbar lordosis.
I do the "long hold hip flexor sequence" by Liv about once a week and additionaly some deep lunge limbering on several days per week. I guess this supports this influence.

For quadriceps stretching, I practise the reclining hero pose. I started last may. First. I could not sit down in between my heels. Now, I can (slowly) ly back completely.

In the hip flexor sequence, there is also a quadriceps aspect when I crap the back foot. When I started Stretchtherapy, this was impossible, I had to use a pretty long strap. Now I can hold my toes, but still much work to do.

I hope this track is ok concerning hip flexors/quadriceps.

 

Generally, I feel that there happens a lot in my hips at the moment.

 

 

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It all takes time. And hip flexors and quadriceps, we have found, are probably the two groups of muscles that are most resistant to elongation. There seem to be many reasons for this but at one level the reasons are not important. I'll share a story with you.

Some years ago, probably 15 now, I decided to take the advanced class that I was running at the University through the deep hip flexor stretches every week until people had actually loosened off to what I felt was enough. To my surprise, even though this group was advanced and could do all the big poses like full backbend, pancake, and Pike, they were remarkably slow to adapt to this new partner hip flexor stretch. Now this is the important part: even with this group of advanced stretchers it took two years of weekly sieging that muscle group before everyone's back leg was down on the floor close to front splits.

The point is that one's most deeply held tension is going to take time and energy to change – so knowing this, don't be in any kind of rush. There is no doubt in my mind that you will need a partner to stretch the hip flexors properly (once every ten days is enough, we have found since then). As well, some people find the wall quadriceps hip flexor stretch to be super affective, because it stretches both ends of that muscle group at the same time (all the other hip flexor and quadriceps exercises stretch only one end of that group, like the one you are doing). For some people, and often quite flexible people it is only when both ends of stretch that the magic really happens.

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Kit, this came in exactly the right moment! Thanks, this is a great support.
Certainly, I know that it needs time. But - I felt that I became impatient just before you wrote the words above. Knowing rationaly and reading it again (adressed directly at me!) are two different things.

Luckily, I really like doing Stretchtherapy exercices. Even on days when I am "not in the mood", I start doing a bit of limbering and it always leaves me in a lighter set of mind.

Yesterday, I had a riding lesson and I explained the whole experience to my riding instructor. Well, she is really good with horses, but a bit less knowledgable with the human body. She totally respects my experience, but I got the feeling that she does not understand that it is a deep transformation for me. Her council is to see it more dynamically, not to concentrate on a static position, which is certainly correct when riding, but I am not convinced about the consequences for me. But she let's me try as long it is not bad for the horses. At the moment, I got a lot more movment and instability in saddle, but I get the feeling that the horse walks more relaxed and indisturbed.

The least couple of days, I got the feeling that "something has to happen" in my body before my adductors can relax. I have the vague feeling that the outside-tigh muscles have to get stronger before the inside-tigh muscles can let loose. I am not very experienced anatomically, but as far as I see, it is the TFL and the sartorious I have to strengthen (or rather to address).  When practising pancake, I think I feel the sartorious (or is it gracilis?) sometimes as the limitation inside the knees.

And well, just today, when I did squashed frog, for the first time in my life, I felt that the adductors "let go" a bit. I just stayed there and breathed, did very little movements every now and then and tried to feel the muscles. I got a tiny bit deeper - it was something 😊

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@MaRo: I can say I grew up on horseback, but as far from the dressage world as you can imagine: ungroomed, scruffy cattle ponies  out in the very rugged bush where I grew up, and where we mustered our, and the neighbour's cattle, which happened over a six-week period in summer. Dogs, dust, and 16 hours a day in the saddle, from before dawn to 23:00 at night. 

3 hours ago, MaRo said:

but I get the feeling that the horse walks more relaxed and indisturbed.

This is the point: horses know what we are feeling, and our inner state is communicated to them, via the saddle and your hands. I am assuming that you are doing the relaxation exercises daily, as well as the physical work that you described above, and perhaps you can confirm that. And if you are not adding the relaxation exercises to your stretching and limbering, give this serious consideration because it will affect your riding capacity more than improving turn out will. And while you are learning a new way of being in your body, the horseriding (in the formal, postural, sense) probably will suffer a bit – but don't worry about that. Learning how to let go of unnecessary tension is a brand-new thing for most people because most people don't realise they're holding massive tension in ordinary daily life! And so no wonder the horses are a bit confused. When being completely relaxed and yet being able to generate power when you need it is your normal way of being, your horseriding will improve dramatically.

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3 hours ago, MaRo said:

I have the vague feeling that the outside-tigh muscles have to get stronger before the inside-tigh muscles can let loose.

No doubt completely accurate. And:

3 hours ago, MaRo said:

When practising pancake, I think I feel the sartorious (or is it gracilis?) sometimes as the limitation inside the knees.

Most likely gracilis; adhesions between it and the inner hamstring is what you feel inside the knee. See this:

 

 

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Thank you for clarification.

My husband and me played with this facial relaxation (it is the same as in the pancake course, isn't it?), but we weren't successful so far. It might be that my body is/was just not ready.

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15 hours ago, MaRo said:

(it is the same as in the pancake course, isn't it?)

Yes, it is. Is your husband a body worker? He will need really strong hands and fingers, and probably (because he is your husband) will not dig in deeply enough (because he will not want to hurt you). If he is patient, though, and can wait until he can feel some kind of change, then he will be able to pull gracilis straight up and away from the inner hamstring, in time. And he will need to feel for the space in between g. and the inner hamstring at a point above the mid-point between the knee and the groin—lower than that and he will not be able to get his fingers in (that's where the adhesions will be found, and it's just too painful). Good luck!

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Thanks for that... (ouch!)

My husband is not a body worker. He is a climber, so his hands should be strong enough. But you're right - we weren't really successful yet with this. I could not really guide him, either, as I did not reall know what feeling to look for.

Today, when I did some limbering in straddle position, I tried to find the muscles with my fingers. Altough you say it is not possible to release the adhesion by myself (and I totally believe you!), I guess I found an adhesive area between gracilis/adductors/inner hamstring. And it is exactly where I located my "sore spot"! I guess this could be the reason why I felt that it is a "wandering spot": it is the muscles that adhere to each other, so I feel the adhesion a bit lower or higher depending on the position. I tried to "grab" in between the muscles which was really painful. I tried to continue for some time and I felt things happening in the muscle and some relaxation in the leg. I could lean a tiny bit more forward suddenly.

It is certainly not the way to do it, but I think I have an idea of how it should feel and where to find the muscles (I even have a little bruise there now) so I hope I can guide my husband a bit better.

Usually, I could ask one of my co-adult-gymnasts who would be less reluctant, but we are still in lockdown...

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Today, I did a "Rolling around the Floor" class. That was really great. Especially the hip flexor exercices lead me a new path. It is one of the exercices I did for years an nothing changed. The "rolling on the kneecap" and rotation of hips might be a way for me to go.

Regarding turnout - loosing up adductors: I noticed that my legs look different, the quadricepts bulgs more on the outside and I looks as if the adductors have come a bit forward (difficult to explain).

In one of the first posts, I wrote that I've been inflexible for all of my life.

Kit the wrote that I should maybe stop regarding myself as inflexible.

Now it ocurred to me that my own perception of being inflexible did not come mainly from my inability of doing "flexiblity things" (like a split or bridge), but from the sense that nothing changed in my body when doing any stretching. Whatever I did, it all remained the same.
Only when I started doing Gravitiy Yoga last spring (basically long passive stretches), I noticed little changes.
Now with stretchtherapy I feel a lot of things happening in my body. In find the thight areas. I move a bit and find another tight line. I notice a lot of crackling in my sacroiliac joint (good crackling!). I feel muscles loosen up during limbering (or not). Sometimes effects in unexpected areas, like in the jaw after the "class" today.
So like that, I don't feel inflexible anymore. It is not that feeling of "this is how I am and I cannot change it" any longer.
I feel changes in my body and a lot to discover.
Maybe this explains a bit why I regarded myself as inflexible. And I am so happy that I found Stretchtherapy!

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On 3/14/2021 at 6:15 AM, MaRo said:

He is a climber, so his hands should be strong enough.

I am sure he will be strong enough, in that case (climbers have pretty much the strongest hands of anyone in the world apart from hand training specialist). You are definitely on the right track with this.

6 hours ago, MaRo said:

I feel changes in my body and a lot to discover.

Excellent! 

To save me looking back over pages, are you doing the relaxation exercises too?

Edited by Kit_L
'i' is next to 'o' on the keyboard!!!
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Hi Kit, I appreciate it very much that you respond in this thread - so I never expect you to reread anything.
Yes, i certainly do relaxation exercices. I think they are crucial. Do you mean any specific ones or just muscle relaxation in general? I usually do it before sleeping (right beside my bed.. I go to bed pretty early) or in the morning just when I get up.

My feeling is that the limbering has the biggest effect on my body at the moment. I do the contract-relax, but I have the feeling that I am "not there" yet. It is helpful in tailor pose, but in the other poses I am not sure. I keep trying (I know that it works as I have experienced quite often it with my gymnasts)

We have also tried the deep lunge partner stretch and the turnout partner stretch Kit described, but I am not sure if it really helps at the moment. But I love the pancake partner stretch where the partner leans onto my back. It is difficult to keep the back straight, but it is such a good feeling.

When I do my walks and runs, I try concentrating on "turnout" -> acitivating my outher thigs, TFL. It changes the movement and I use the muscles differently.

My favourite limbering movment at the moment is deep lunge and then rolling the hips (rolling on kneecaps) as demonstrated in "rolling around the floor class". I feel it loosens up the hips a lot. I really like the aspect of "finding the thightest line" instead of concentrating on perfect alignment. I do love all the movements in this class. They feel just right for me.

At the moment, I oscilliate between "there is so much change in my hip, everything feels loosened up, it is great" and "I can still not lean further down, I still feel so restricted in straddle, this will not lead anywhere". I am aware that it needs time and rationally, I know that it works and it will get better, but the feelings sometimes trick me.

Therefore, I am really greatful for this forum, for the reason to write down some words, for someone reading it every now and then - and for reading what others are doing. It is a bit lonely work, I have to stay at home  and do training for myselve and I try to keep my gymnasts and my family happy.
So a big thanks for everything and everybody here (and sorry for my English...)!

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The deep lunge is my first go-to exercise every time I decide I am going to do a little stretching—as soon as I get into the position I know exactly what else I'm going to have to do in that session. I can honestly say that the deep lunge, especially the partner version, changed my life! I know this sounds very dramatic but it's true and I made the whole advanced class siege this exercise for two full years. Literally everyone's movement patterns and posture changed. As well, when you get really deeply into it, there is a massive, deep psycho-somatic affect on the whole system to – we are not certain of what is going on but literally everyone in the group felt the same way.

With respect to the relaxation exercises, the key is to deepen the feeling of relaxation in the body. I say to myself, "totally relaxed, body and mind". And I keep repeating that until I actually feel that this is true. And in time, the body itself will fall asleep (you'll hear it start to snore). And then you know it is really starting to work deeply. Breath counting is also an extremely useful practice and I do intend to make a video on this some time soon. It is subtle and powerful and you are changing yourself at a deep level without actually having any intention of going in any particular direction, apart from being more relaxed more often.

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Thanks for those words.
I know that it needs time. But, as mentioned, it is really good to read it again and again as the feeling is not always the same as the rationality.
I completely second that the movement pattern and posture change and that it is a dramatic effect. What I described a couple of weeks ago - that when I do turnout when standing  my spine "unravels" - is a deep, dramatic change for me.
At the moment, I do walks nearly every day. I notice that my movement pattern in walking already changed: I keep the knees more forward, therefore I use the muscles (TFL etc.) differently.
Liv describes somewhere that we should "pull the pelvis on the backside together" (not the exact words). I noticed that there is some liberation in the adductors and groin so that I can do this a little bit.
When doing deep lunge and roll the hip /kneecap, I feel that there is some looseness in the pubic bone (hard to describe). I rekon that this "rolling" in deep lunge could be the key for me working to a certain extent with this position. So far, it was always totally the same... Good place to start stretching for me as well, I think.

What I also like much for starting is "working towards Skandasana" in a wide stance, moving from left to right and going deeper and deeper. The support with arms (one inside bent leg, one under straight leg) is very helpful.

(Why didn't I discover all this before giving birth? I would have made labour much easier... I gave birth twice and it was very hard both times and I not suspect that it was partly because of my very tight hip muscles.)

My relaxation ritual is similar (and I sometimes wake up again from my snoring noise). Especially in the morning, when I wake up really early, I like lying on my back and taking up one leg like in "tree" pose and relax then. This is a pose I can hardly do standing, but which is very relaxing for the groin when the backside is completely supported. In the evening, I do it flat with hands crossed on chest. Thanks for your instruction, I'll try it.

Breath counting: In passive stretches, I do 4-8 breathing, about 2-4 breaths /min. I am also open for new input here!

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Just a note: When Kit asked about relaxation exercises, I believe he was referring specifically to a lying relaxation practice. Judging from your responses, I feel like perhaps you interpreted his words to mean some kind of relaxing activity in general, which is also good but not the same thing. The breath counting he mentioned is also generally part of a lying relaxation or sitting meditation practice. Try searching the forums for "lying relaxation" to read various threads, but you can find all of Kit's recordings in this thread. For more on the counting, you kind find a little writeup from Kit here.

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Thanks for this, Nathan! I didn't read it before, it is really helpful.

Luckily, my relaxation practice goes in this direction. I don't know exactly where I got it from, I guess it is eclectic. Maybe I found part of it on the stretchtherapy website a while ago.

My relaxation practice is based on a Hawaiian sitting meditation I used to follow years ago. I had a lot going on in my mind because of my job back then and it was so worthwile. And I learned that I can sit on floor without problems if my hip is a bit lifted.
Now I do it mostly lying because I can get better muscle relaxation. The ideal of using the mat for body support I got from Ballet (I don't practise Ballet, I am completely useless at it, but some aspects are helpful) - but I do it in a different way.

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